Estates: La Rocca di Montemurlo, Prato, Italy

estates, europe, italy, montemurlo, travel, Uncategorized

IMG_1551

When I was in Florence, I found out about a series of free tours of Prato, a neighboring area in the region of Florence, which was aimed at promoting the area as an alternative sightseeing destination to the often-overcrowded Firenze. One of the places we went to was a cute hilltop estate called La Rocca di Montemurlo, in Montemurlo, Prato.

IMG_1552

Our bus was too big to go up the steep roads to the estate, so the organizers actually partnered up with the commune’s emergency services (the misericordia) so we were driven up to the estate in ambulances. It was a bit of a slow process just because they had 2 ambulances that could only take a handful of people at a time, and there was a giant bus full of us. But I applauded their creativity and especially the community participation. Talk about team spirit!

IMG_1553

This view ❤

IMG_1554

IMG_1608

IMG_1609

IMG_1900

IMG_1901

This is the private villa at the top. We were given access to the garden, which was also really beautiful.

IMG_1902

IMG_1903

IMG_1904

IMG_1905

The stuff of fairytales

IMG_1906

IMG_1907

I want a mini private forest too

IMG_1908

IMG_1909

IMG_1910

The estate was also hosting a wedding reception at the time, so this would also make for a great little wedding location!

IMG_1911

IMG_1912

To visit, check out if thatsprato.com is still offering the free tours

Advertisements

Architecture in: Siena, Italy

architecture, europe, italy, siena, Uncategorized

IMG_3963

Siena, Italy. September 2014.

Always branded as Florence’s less crowded neighbor (although let’s face it, it’s pretty crowded here too, sometimes), Siena is worth a visit all on its own. It’s a nice day trip or half day trip, and almost all the notables are within a 5-10 minute radius from the center. I really like it when old towns are jam-packed with things to see and do. An instagrammer’s dream (since technically I’m no photographer haha)!

IMG_3961

Like many duomos in Tuscany and nearby regions, the church was built originally medieval (brick), and then renaissance-d up. You’ll also notice these graphic stripes paired with the ornate baroque-ish façades in many duomos and churches.

IMG_3962

IMG_2792

IMG_2769

IMG_3559

IMG_3560

IMG_3721

Siena is pretty small, and it wasn’t palio season when I went (I imagine it would be a lot more crowded during the palio), so it was nice to walk around maplessly.

IMG_3722

IMG_3723

IMG_3731

IMG_3735

IMG_3734

IMG_3960

IMG_3760

Tuscan charm

IMG_3781

A sandwich shop where I cracked a tooth :)) The sandwich wasn’t bad; my teeth just suck.

IMG_3727

IMG_3729

IMG_3959

IMG_2732

IMG_3787

IMG_3968

IMG_3969

The shell-shaped piazza where the palio takes place

IMG_3970

IMG_3972

400+ steps up, not a great idea when one isn’t in shape and forgot to warm up :))

IMG_3973

IMG_3974

IMG_3975

IMG_3976

IMG_3977

IMG_3978

IMG_3979

IMG_3982

IMG_3983

IMG_2867_2

IMG_2906

IMG_3980

IMG_3981

And one dizzying descent before I left. Ci vediamo, Siena.

IMG_3964

Architecture in: Bologna, Italy

architecture, bologna, europe, italy

IMG_2628

Bologna, Italy. April 2015.

Only 30 minutes away from Florence, Bologna is a great day trip or half day trip that won’t break the bank too much. It’s got a slightly bigger city feel than Florence (it certainly has a lot more mainstream shopping in the old town), and has a bigger airport, so a lot of people actually choose Bologna as a base camp or fly-in city when traveling around the region.

IMG_2629

I can’t say I was completely charmed by Bologna the way I was with Florence (I may be biased), but maybe that’s just me–I’m just generally more at ease with smaller-scale towns with a high density of sights/cultural heritage. Not to say that Bologna doesn’t have its notable must-sees. Combo architecture and interesting features are everywhere, and though it feels slightly run-down, I think it rather adds to its character and history.

IMG_2630

IMG_2636

Surprisingly, I saw a lot of somewhat Venetian influence in a lot of building details. I’m not too familiar with Bolognese (and that’s boh-loh-nyeh-sze, not boh-loh-naise) history, but with Venice not too far away, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some sort of Doge-related historical overlaps in there somewhere.

IMG_2644

At the same time, a lot of typical Romanesque type architecture that can be spotted around Italy (since Rome basically made their mark by building stuff everywhere they expanded their empire), and Tuscan-ish architecture (with the Medicis nearby), and architectural features that we also saw in Parma and Modena that seem typical of the Emilia-Romagna region.

IMG_2645

IMG_2646

IMG_2649

All in all making for an interesting old town that feels historical, and not generic.

IMG_2661

IMG_2662

IMG_2665

IMG_2669

You see a lot of these porticoed walkways in Italy, especially in the northern half.

IMG_2670

IMG_2673

IMG_2685

IMG_2689

Their duomo is a pretty good example of how the old town is in general–part medieval, part renaissance, part something else.

IMG_2690

IMG_2697

You’ll also find a lot of towns in Italy with a square like this, a clocktower similar to this, and maybe a church and a fountain nearby.

IMG_2698

IMG_2701

IMG_2718

IMG_2720

IMG_2721

IMG_2723

IMG_2726

Bologna’s two towers or due torre. Didn’t have time (or frankly, energy) to go up, but the view is likely red rooftops 🙂

IMG_2727

IMG_2728

IMG_2729

I love how the towers lean and look like they’re in conversation

IMG_2730

IMG_2734

IMG_2757

IMG_2760

IMG_2763

IMG_2764

The old town is a bit of a walk from the train station (about 1.5-2km on foot), but you walk through a very long porticoed shopping street, so that helps a bit, if you like to shop. It doesn’t help if you’re rushing to catch the train and you’re nearly 2km away trying to speed-walk through a throng of slow walkers and shoppers ambling about too leisurely for your liking :)) Just saying.